Woodpeckers in Michigan

Michigan’s unique environments, with its dual peninsula feature and adjacency to multiple Great Lakes, have made it a haven for woodpeckers. The Wolverine State is also rich in dietary resources for the birds, hosting as many as eleven woodpecker species, of which seven are common.

The largest native woodpecker is the pileated (17.5 inches), while the smallest is the downy (6.1 inches), which is also the most common. The giant pileated woodpecker mainly inhabits the northern part of the state in deciduous forests and is less common in the southeastern part. The downy and hairy woodpeckers look similar and can be seen in all seasons, including winter, keeping birdwatchers busy when most other birds have migrated.

Woodpeckers in Michigan (MI)

Different Types of Woodpeckers Found in Michigan

NameIdentifying FeaturesWhere They Are Found in Michigan
Downy WoodpeckerSmall size, black wings with white spotsCommon throughout the state
Hairy WoodpeckerSimilar to Downy but largerCommon in wooded areas and forests
Northern FlickerBrownish body with black markingsOpen areas, fields, and yards
Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed cap on the headWoodlands, suburbs, and parks
Pileated WoodpeckerLarge, striking red crest and black bodyForested regions and woodlands
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerYellow belly and red throatWooded areas with sap-rich trees
Red-headed WoodpeckerBright red head and black wingsWoodlands, open areas, and suburbs
Black-backed WoodpeckerBlack back and white undersidesRare, mainly in northern forests
American Three-toed WoodpeckerThree-toed feet and black backRare and primarily found in northern forests
Lewis’s WoodpeckerPinkish-red belly and gray collarRare and occasional sightings in the state
Golden-fronted WoodpeckerYellow patches on the head and yellow or bright red on the bellySporadic and occasional sightings

Among the rare woodpeckers, the black-backed is predominantly found in northern Michigan. It is black and white, with females lacking the yellow stripe on the crown, unlike the males. It shares its range with the more common red-bellied woodpecker, which is slightly bigger but weighs almost the same. The latter can only be seen in the winter and the breeding season (March and April).


Q. Are woodpeckers protected in Michigan?

Ans. Woodpeckers are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. So, injuring or killing them by shooting or any other means is illegal. However, special permits can be obtained from the local DNR office to control them, depending on the situation. Still, prevention is the best method to control the birds from causing damage to your property.

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